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Tips on building a show?

Nov 20, 2013
169
5
I've been working on creating a parlour show.. however after reading Jay Sankey's "Beyond Secrets" I brought myself to a realization. After all my years in magic (12 years) I stayed performing closeup the whole time for one reason. Intimacy. In Jay's passage he wrote.. "A dance of glances" And that's when I knew I was doing the parlour show for what I felt like was more money.. and I should stick to a closeup show. Here's another quote to back up my new reasoning.

"I'd rather be at the bottom of a ladder I want to climb, than the top of a ladder I [didn't]."

What's your tips for creating a show? Jimmy Talksalot just says.. Go out there and do it. Any day on the pitch is better than a day in your room planning. And I should take that to heart and start showing everyone in any situation my performance will fit in.

My plan is to start this week unless I am proved otherwise by valid arguments.
 

Brett Hurley

Elite Member
Sep 27, 2014
2,410
2,005
Texa$, with a dollar sign
I've been working on creating a parlour show.. however after reading Jay Sankey's "Beyond Secrets" I brought myself to a realization. After all my years in magic (12 years) I stayed performing closeup the whole time for one reason. Intimacy. In Jay's passage he wrote.. "A dance of glances" And that's when I knew I was doing the parlour show for what I felt like was more money.. and I should stick to a closeup show. Here's another quote to back up my new reasoning.

"I'd rather be at the bottom of a ladder I want to climb, than the top of a ladder I [didn't]."

What's your tips for creating a show? Jimmy Talksalot just says.. Go out there and do it. Any day on the pitch is better than a day in your room planning. And I should take that to heart and start showing everyone in any situation my performance will fit in.

My plan is to start this week unless I am proved otherwise by valid arguments.

It sounds like Talksalot specializes in street magic. And when it comes to a show--especially a successful close-up show where you're not trying to draw a crowd and utilizing more improvisation; the entire premise of 'go out there and do it' is out the window.

Behind the scenes scripting, creating a relatable theme, patter, connecting tricks together through patter or the actual tricks themselves; you're going to spend a good bit of time doing this and practicing in your room. I know you say you've been in magic for over 12 years, but I think you need more than a week for quality.
 
Aug 17, 2010
411
4
It sounds like Talksalot specializes in street magic.

Jimmy Talksalot is a busker - there's a difference.

I'd guess the best tip I could give is 'really create an act, don't do it halfway.'

That means really put in the hours; write a script, as tight as you can make it, one that reveals character, that tells the audience what they have to know, that makes every word tell, and entertains. Rewrite it until you cannot make it better.

Work out the blocking so that it's as clear and natural as it can be. Try to make it so clear that people could follow you even if they don't speak english just by watching.

Work out the prop management so that the dead time between putting one prop away and getting another out is as strong as possible.

Rehearse the act until it sounds as if you're saying the words for the very first time and looks as if the blocking was not planned at all.

While just going out and doing it will teach you a lot, it will mostly teach you about the value of creating an act.
 
May 21, 2014
127
6
Staunton, VA
It sounds like Talksalot specializes in street magic. And when it comes to a show--especially a successful close-up show where you're not trying to draw a crowd and utilizing more improvisation; the entire premise of 'go out there and do it' is out the window.

Behind the scenes scripting, creating a relatable theme, patter, connecting tricks together through patter or the actual tricks themselves; you're going to spend a good bit of time doing this and practicing in your room. I know you say you've been in magic for over 12 years, but I think you need more than a week for quality.


This guy said pretty much what I was gonna say. Building a show involves a lot of planning and decision-making, as well as a lot of rehearsal, since you're going to want to have a much more consistent script. Furthermore, I generally use the same props and effects in my closeup and parlor routines because I tend to use small props that play big. Parlor settings actually allow me to do some wonderful magic that isn't always practical in an impromptu setting because I have my table and a lot more control over audience placement and angles.

If you want to do closeup performance professionally, you're looking at building skills for roaming/busking magic rather than show magic. That being said, having a parlor show rehearsed and in your arsenal won't really detract from anything else you're doing, and it will make you a more desirable hire. In a business like this, you want to make decisions that leave doors open rather than closed. This is one of the multitudinous reasons I tend to sneer at magi who say things like "Oh, I'm just a cards guy," or "Oh, I never use gimmicks," or whatever the arbitrary red tape may be. That attitude may be ok as a focusing agent for an amateur or hobbyist, but the pros that I've seen generally use whatever works consistently and gets the job done the most effectively.
 
Nov 20, 2013
169
5
How else am I supposed to test a show out? No one should go all in when performing magic with a brand new act. 20 minutes of untested magic in it's routine is suicide. You have to audience test as soon as possible.

Also there is an old showbiz adage that says.. "Ring one bell until your arm falls off." Casting a wide net will get you no where but on a ladder you don't want to climb.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,656
3,974
New Jersey
No. You need to audience test when your effects are scripted, practiced and rehearsed to the point that the performance is automatic. At a minimum, you should have 50 rehearsals (with both the performance of the effect and the presentation of the script) for new material. Then, do it for friends or other magicians. That is your audience testing. If it works there, then put it into a show. The amount of effort put into preparation is the difference between an amateur and a professional.
 
May 21, 2014
127
6
Staunton, VA
How else am I supposed to test a show out? No one should go all in when performing magic with a brand new act. 20 minutes of untested magic in it's routine is suicide. You have to audience test as soon as possible.

Also there is an old showbiz adage that says.. "Ring one bell until your arm falls off." Casting a wide net will get you no where but on a ladder you don't want to climb.


I tend to learn an effect until I'm confident I can do it under stress, then I start testing it on people I know. If it goes over well there, then I can be comfortable trying it out in front of audiences (close-up and/or parlor, depending on the effect).

If you're performing for a stranger, you're not testing any more. You're doing. You want to make sure what you're doing is polished before you get to that point, paid or otherwise.
 
Jun 13, 2013
237
1
Germany
How I developed my program.

Let me give you my 2 cents on how I made my program. Although I am far from beng experienced I just want to give you my thought. I did it in this order:

1. Have a basic idea what the program is about!
For me: I wanted to have a program which was a bit funny, made people think, that they could connect to my program and that it somewhat let me look immature (that's me, I wanted this part of my personality to be represented it my program.) .

2. Look for tricks!
Now you need to find tricks that roughly resemble where you wanna go. You should have a basic presentation idea for a trick before you buy it and the presentation needs to fit you original idea of the program and look if these tricks are suited for parlour.

3. MOST IMPORTANT PART: Scripting.
I've spent ~150 hours just on scripting 20 minutes of my show (4 tricks). When you think everything is polished let somenoe else take a look at the script and give you some advice. Then rework it.

4. Structuring the routine.
Now that you know what you want from the trick you need to structure a routine in such a way that the spectator can't know the method but it should stay close to the script. If it is necessary to structure the trick in a certain way that affects the script you can change the script afterwards so that it fits the trick.

5. Add you personality.
You should have finished the the structure of the routine and the scripting. Now make it fit your personality. (You already did that with the basic idea for the program but you need to insert small feats that reveal something about your character.)

6. Review.
Are you happy with the program so far? If not, make small changes.

7. Perform it for a couple of you magician friends whom you trust and who have the expertise and get some feedback.

8. Implement the critics and practice the program.

Now you're ready to perform. Keep in mind that the only part where something can go wrong now is in the interaction between you and the spectator.

9. optional: Add music.
Should fit the program and the general mood/feeling you want to transmit. Don't make the mistake some magicians make to have music that doesn't have a climax. You need a music that has a climax at the time your magic trick reaches its climax.

That is how I did it. It took me 3 months and I will perform the program soon.

Please keep in mind that I am just a beginner and I may have misstated some things or I left some things out.

I hope you can get some use out of this.

Have a nice day.

Cheers

Philipp
 
Nov 20, 2013
169
5
I am getting use out of everything someone says. Either it is contradicting what I have heard (giving me a choice) or I am agreeing. Nothing here is a moot comment. Thank you all for participating. Anything you need from me, just ask.

Also, thanks Philipp for going into extreme detail. Kudos to you.
 

Mike.Hankins

creator / <a href="http://www.theory11.com/tricks/
Nov 21, 2009
435
0
Sacramento, Cali
There have been some good suggestions already. Here is what I will contribute:

Make your opening something that hits them hard to let them know you mean business. Also make sure it is something you could perform during a typhoon. (Meaning it is so rehearsed and polished, you can focus more on the performance than the moves.)

For material that you would LIKE to work into your set, make sure you sandwich them in next to well rehearsed and well scripted material. That way, if something goes wrong with the new effect, you know your next effect will bring them back in...

Hope my small amount of advice helps!
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,800
2,900
My method is like this:

I come up with the concept of the show. For my last show the concept I had was "Witchdoctor" and I knew I really wanted to do Psychic Surgery. Everything was built around that. I've got a couple new concepts in the works - one is "Reader" and I really want to develop a solid Q&A act for it.

So once I have the concept and the climax, I write down every trick I know that can possibly be worked to fit the concept. I do mean everything - way more than I will every put into a single show. I then try to arrange them in some kind of coherent order.

At this point I have a concept and a TON of material. I then go through and mark the times each routine will take up next to each routine. I generally aim for about a one hour show.

At this point I go through an eliminate anything that was kind of a stretch to fit the concept. Then I arrange the remaining tricks in a cohesive order again and look at the amount of time I'm looking at. Usually by this point I'm over the hour mark by about 20 minutes. So I look at what I've got listed and narrow down which items seem to be the best representation of the concept.

Then I narrow it down to those, which usually gives me the hour I want.

I then begin what I think of mental rehearsals. I run through the material purely in my head, just thinking through each routine in real time as if I were performing it. This gives me a skeleton of the blocking. I make notes for each routine, paying close attention to the transitions and making sure they are smooth. This is also where I decide where I will arrange my props for efficiency.

Once I'm sure I've done that enough I move on to mimed rehearsals - which is where I mime out the entire show as if I were performing. Usually I do the first few rounds of this silently, just thinking through the script. Then I start doing it all out as if I were performing, speaking as if I were projecting to the back of a theater.

After I've run through that until I can go through the whole show without having to refer to any notes, I start re-timing everything. First I time the whole show and mark that down, then I do each routine individually and mark those times down. I do each a few times so I can get an average. This lets me be sure I'm within the proper time frame. I also always leave a small buffer for audience time - Just in case volunteers are slow.

Then I continue to rehearse and refine. Most of what I do is more a matter of making sure I have the scripting correct since I have almost zero physical work. So once I have the script down it's just a matter of getting it to the point of being natural.

This process takes a few months. Generally the only material that goes into a show is stuff I've already honed to performance quality.
 
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